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Legaspy 5: Ao


Ao shows us how to make his second favourite chicken dish, a Uygher chicken dish with peppers and potatoes (Dapanji) and tells us a little about his humble start in cooking


*Important to note there was cultured music playing in the background of this conversation*

Why is this your Legaspy? A: Well this is actually my second favourite chicken dish. The childhood recipe that my dad used to cook a lot has mushroom, and I know Kate doesn't like mushrooms...

All: *laugh*

K: Sorry you couldn't make your favourite dish...! A: I learnt this dish in university with my roomie. He took me to the place where there was a Uyghur chef, he knows the place and he knows the chef and we all go there together and I just loved it. It's so simple and after reading the history of it made me like it even better. It doesn't have to be a Uyghur chef who cooks it, anyone can cook it! It's like how anyone can be a truck driver! All: *laugh*


Who taught you how to cook?

A: I had a humble start in cooking. Firstly with instant noodles. All: *laugh*

A: After I learned how to use the stove, boil the water and stir the noodles in and add the powder - that's it! We used to have a very funny gas stove though, and the ignition didn't work so we had a very long lighter which also didn't work, so we used matches. And the first time I burned my hair on that because I turned it all the way to maximum! I think I was around 13 years old. L: Oh no! A: After that I was banned from cooking for a while...After moving to Germany with Keni, she was actually my first teacher in cooking - like actual cooking. She taught me how to cut stuff and how to wash up properly too. All: *laugh*

A: She basically taught me everything, and then I started going to Youtube University and learnt from there. I follow recipes very strictly compared to Keni because I don't know shit! She intuitively knows why the cook does something and I don't.


What is a dish you can't cook but wish you could?

A: Barbecue, I've never been very good at that. I grew up eating a lot of it, but I've never managed to do it successfully myself. You really need to know the temperature and the fire, so the fire doesn't come from the coal for instance. Most of the time I've tried the temperature is already too low or the fire is too high and the meat is burned, or I already lost my patience. K: I think it's really hard because you don't get to practice it very much. A: Yeah we don't have a balcony or a barbecue here! I feel very unqualified to be a man in certain cultures All: *laugh*


Who is your biggest inspiration when cooking?

A: Keni, absolutely. L: Awwww!

A: For example, with my parents their cooking takes time. It's north-eastern Chinese food and a region of working class so they used to make lots of stews and stuff, like beans and pumpkins - everything in one pot. It's obviously really good but you just leave it in the pot for a while and I don't have the patience. Plus I found the flavours are very boring. But after knowing Keni everything is with chilli, I was very intolerant of it to start with! But over the years I've really come to like chilli in my cooking and learning her way of cooking too. After I learnt from Keni I started watching Wang Gang, he's a professional Chinese cook from the Sichuan region but he tells you the exact amounts and temperature - he's really pro and I've learned a lot of dishes from him.


What do you like to listen to while you cook?

A: Something from my liked songs, or a podcast. Normally a podcast I don't have to really concentrate on. So last time I was listening to a podcast on ancient Egypt because I don't really know anything about it but I knew I wouldn't remember it. It really depends on my mood but either of those.


What is the best dish you've ever eaten? A: Oh.... that's difficult I mean, I've had a lot of good stuff...I think a crab dumpling I had already 13 years ago in Shanghai. It was the first time I'd had a dumpling with crab meat, specifically the crab eggs.

K: That was also in the dumplings?

A: Yeah, that was in the dumpling along with some juice, so they also gave us a straw first to drink the juice and then eat the dumpling. But it was really the best one I've ever had and the only time I've had it. I think it was so impressive because I'd never had it before. I don't know who had the patience to take the meat out of a crab but apparently some people do have the time!


Ao's Dapanji

Ingredients:

A whole chicken, chopped into walnuts size

1 big potato

20g brown sugar

1-2 green pepper s

5 Hot chilli peppers

2 cloves garlic

Some garlic and spring onions

1 teaspoon Ras Al Hanout

1 teaspoon sichuan pepper powder

Some tomato paste for the color



Processing steps:

1) Heat up the wok up to 180 degrees

2) Pour in 15 ml cold plant oil

3) Add brown sugar to the oil and stir until it turns brown, with foam appearing

4) Add chicken and let the caramelized sugar coat the chicken chops

5) Keep frying until it turns golden

6) Add garlic, chilli pepper, tomato paste and ginger, mix fry

7) Add Ras Al Hanout, black pepper powder, sichuan pepper powder and well mix for 1 minute

8) Add 250ml beer(or water for halal version), bring to boiling

9) Add chopped potatoes, cover and slow cook for 15 minutes

10) Open the lid, turn up the heat to vaporise the liquid

11) Leave some bit of soup and add green pepper and spring onions

12) Boil some noodles for later. after finishing the chicken use the noodles to mix with the soup




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